French photographer Lucien Clergue, who penned the autobiography Picasso My Friend, passed away this month. His achievements as co-founder of the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival, a knight of the Légion d’honneur, and member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts are not nearly as well-known as his 30-year friendship with the Spanish painter known for his stormy temperament.
“I had a good fortune to meet Pablo Picasso at a bullring. I had stopped playing violin, and for the lack of funds I could not go to school in Paris. I started taking photographs with different cameras owned by a man close to my home,” Clergue wrote. “Picasso signed one of the print, not my best, but now it is the most expensive. When I reached the age of 20 I was still working in a factory, but I was taking photographs of five children dressed with clothes designed by me [inspired by Picasso’s circus paintings]. I was trying to make Picasso happy: he had said at the bullring, ‘I want to see more prints.’”
Their relationship lasted until Picasso’s death in 1973. “Picasso died and left me an artistic orphan,” a devastated Clergue said. Their close friendship is revealed in photos of the artists together and Clergue’s portraits of the painter in his studio. We gathered other photos of famous artist friends — some candid and others formal — that tell a story about their relationship. Share your own picks, below.